Calls on DHS to Conduct Audit & Make Available Unused Visas
Washington, D.C. - Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet joined a bipartisan group of Senators to send a letter to Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly, outlining concerns that the H-2B visa statutory cap will be reached soon.
"Hundreds of Colorado businesses depend on this program to fill seasonal and small business jobs," Bennet said. "These workers are vital to communities across Colorado, especially in our tourism and outdoor recreation industries. Determining efficient ways to improve the visa program will benefit Colorado's economy."
In their letter, the Senators requested the Department of Homeland Security conduct an audit to determine the number of unused visas during the first half of the fiscal year, and make available any unused visas to eligible petitioners.
"In recent weeks, numerous businesses across the United States have contacted our offices expressing concern that the H-2B statutory cap will be reached soon, jeopardizing their small businesses and their American workers," the senators wrote. "As a result, small and seasonal businesses across the country, such as seafood processors and other critical hospitality and service businesses that are vital to the local economies in our states, will likely be locked out of a necessary program that they rely on during their busiest seasons. Failure to access these critical workers will harm small businesses, American workers, and the economy."
"In 2015, after previously announcing that the statutory cap had been reached, USCIS determined that more than 5,000 unused visas were available," the senators continued. "Soon thereafter, the agency began accepting applications from businesses still hoping to hire workers through the program. With that in mind, we respectfully request that your office conduct an immediate audit of the number of unused visas from the first half of the fiscal year and project the likely usage rate for the second half of the fiscal year....As with prior practice, any unused visas should be provided to eligible businesses that have been unable to secure an adequate number of workers due to the cap."
The H-2B temporary non-agricultural visa program allows U.S. employers to hire immigrant workers during peak seasons to supplement the existing American workforce. Employers are required to declare that there were not enough U.S. workers who were available to do the temporary work. The number of H-2B visas is typically capped at 66,000 per year by the Department of Homeland Security.
Click HERE to read the letter in its entirety.